I am the Master of my Mate – You Need not Agree – It is already a Truth



Many of us would remember the famous song by William Ernest Henley. The last two lines have often been quoted by many later writers, leaders and philosophers. Even ordinary people like me and you have all taken recourse to it once or twice in our life when we had tried to come out successful out of a failing circumstance and had to bolster up our courage and determination to succeed and live.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

  • William Ernest Henley


Is it true ? Are we really the true masters of our fate ?

Many of us having been caught between compelling circumstances of our mundane life will never seriously begin to accept the above statement. Why ? Development of scientific thinking has done wonders to the humankind and to the world. No doubt about it. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, machines that have replaced manual labour at home and in factories have all made human life very comfortable.

People who never get tired by reading will remember one past thing: About tiring fingers which got tired in turning pages of epitomes and eyes which got tired out of searching for a particular word, expression, idea, etc. Now with scientific gadgets providing us with weightless books within them, science has taken away the pain from the fingers and the eyes that earlier came out by having to turn the pages physically and eyes jumping endlessly from page to page.

Now people who watch machines work get paid more wages than the ones who work. Doctors earn more from people whose manual work at home has been replaced by machines and equipments.

Compare with people from the pre-industrial period, if you wish. Doctors were less but there was always available a doctor who lived with the people in their midst in every village. Modern diagnostic equipments were not there. There was no conditioned air. People were engaged in work each skilled in a particular area. People had social time when they got tired of daily toil. They mingled with each other in the community. Children learnt from the elders and the children were enjoying mixing with other children.

One important difference I find is this: Workers at professions and workers at homes very rarely got into ill-health. There was no service mechanic needed for workers. The daily habits of strenuous work, ample rest, enough socializing, limited privacy (except for a sanyasi) all meant that there was an environment of health in the body and mind of people, love and enthusiasm in the heart and mind of people, achievement and happiness in the community.

Can we blame the onslaught of science for this ? If we do blame science, we have to accept that we are foolish. The idea of relentlessly replacing ancient method of living with what we call modern method of living  in all the areas of life have resulted in making all of us weaker and not stronger.

Like machines which we have manufactured require manual service-mechanics, we have also digressed to a state which requires us to seek the help of service-mechanics. Too much specialization and complete losing of a wholesome approach in health have made all our medicine men just a service-mechanic, specializing in specific body parts. They also have specialized in  brain and psychology, and, as for many brain and psychology fight with each other, another branch of medicine has come up called psychiatry.

It is a pity that children cannot do mathematics without calculators. It is a pity that we cannot do without our laptop and tablet and smart phone. It is a pity that our bodies feel weak when out in the nature. It is a pity that more men cannot live without airconditioned air. It is a pity that youth go after beauty and wealth than with goodness, joy and happiness while choosing a life-partner. It is a pity that parents of children cannot sleep in the same room. It is a pity that parents need privacy from their children. It is a pity that a new business idea called old-age homes has commercially become a success. It is a pity that unrest in the society is sought for, nurtured and developed by politicians and  merchants of war.

What have we done to ourselves? Does evolution not mean progress? Why there is so much absence of happiness in families and in the community ? Why there is so much fear in our children and why not much joy and happiness in their childhood? Why are our youth always disillusioned? Why more than 10% of the youth from all countries are attracted to terrorism and gladly become terrorists knowing sure about their early death ? Why we spend much on medical services and medicines than on food?

The advent of science need not have made men weak. It is not the fault of the scientists. I love all the scientists for the love they had on the society which was driving them to be proficient in their field. It is the individual person who has lost focus who is the reason for uncivilized development of our civilization.

Everyone must agree that we have consciously and continuously depreciated ourselves. Many of us do not even realize what we are capable of. Many have become victims of emotions which drive their everyday activity.

What I have started is a subject that can never end satisfactorily in a few pages. All readers are capable of thinking on the same lines and collate their personal experiences and relate them to what I am writing about.

Many of us who never tried to see who and what we are have resigned to accept in something called fate and gladly accept everything that comes. Emotional-nonintelligence is the state in which these people find themselves in. If only we can realize that we are our own causes and our results, we can hope to retrieve our true nature.

Why don’t we now read what a celebrated Guru had told us about all this. Yes, he told for all of us but we are not hearing. For who are willing to hear but had not occasion to hear, I am reproducing few lines from my Guru, the great Swami Vivekandananda:

We all agree that life is eternal. It is not that it has sprung out of nothing, for that cannot be. Such a life would not be worth having. Everything that has a beginning in time must end in time. Of life began but yesterday, it must end tomorrow, and annihilation is the result. Life must have been existing. It does not now require much acumen to see that, for all the sciences of modern times have been coming round to our help, illustrating from the material world the principles embodied in our scriptures. You know it already that each one of us is the effect of the infinite past; the child is ushered into the world not as something flashing from the hands of nature, as poets delight so much to depict, but he has the burden of an infinite past; for good or evil he comes to work out his own past deeds. That makes the differentiation. This is the law of Karma. Each one of us is the maker of his own fate. This law knocks on the head at once all doctrines of predestination and fate and gives us the only means of reconciliation between God and man.


We, we, and none else, are responsible for what we suffer. We are the effects, and we are the causes. We are free therefore. If I am unhappy, it has been of my own making, and that very thing shows that I can be happy if I will. If I am impure, that is also of my own making, and that very thing shows that I can be pure if I will. The human will stands beyond all circumstance. Before it — the strong, gigantic, infinite will and freedom in man — all the powers, even of nature, must bow down, succumb, and become its servants. This is the result of the law of Karma.



© N Ganapathy Subramanian



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